Find the hidden beautiful gardens on Washington

Japanese cherry trees are the stars of spring in Washington, DC, when thousands of visitors flock to the Tidal Basin to stroll beneath billowy branches of pink and white blooms. But it’s not all about the cherries. Washingtonians have long prided themselves on their spring gardens, a tradition that stems back to colonial days, when homegrown fruits and vegetables – and a handful of decorative blooms for your windowsill – were a necessity of life. For those looking to soak in natural beauty without the crowds, here are some of Washington’s most inviting spring gardens.

 

Dumbarton Oaks

Famous landscape architect Beatrix Farrand designed this botanical panorama in northern Georgetown. At Dumbarton Oaks, each sweet-smelling garden is more beautiful than the next. Be sure to check the website (www.doaks.org) before your visit to see what’s in bloom, but must-sees include the Orangery, where the climbing ficus dates from the 1860s; the rose garden, arranged by color; the Prunus Walk with its flowering plums; and the Pebble Garden, best viewed from the terrace above to take in the intricate, swirling neo-baroque designs of grey and white stones. It’s a shame that picnicking isn’t permitted on the grounds.

 

River Farm

Did George Washington ever wander past the centuries-old Osage orange tree that dominates River Farm’s Garden Calm? It’s possible. The first president owned these 25 park-like acres along the Potomac River just south of DC, and the story goes that the tree was a gift from Thomas Jefferson to the Washington family. Among the pocket gardens here, you’ll find a grove of Franklin trees (extinct in the wild), an orchard of pear, apple and plum trees, and an azalea garden with a rainbow of different species. The American Horticultural Society (www.ahsgardening.org)  now resides in the restored estate house and hosts such popular events as the Spring Garden Market in April.

 

Hillwood Estate and Gardens

The 13 acres of magnificent floral gardens surrounding cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post’s gracious manse give visitors a taste of how the one percent might live. Each formal garden is designed as an outdoor “room,” with a progression leading from the rose garden, to the French parterre, to the Friendship Walk and so on. The gardens put on a spectacular, ever-changing show throughout the year, though spring is naturally the most breathtaking. Join a seasonal tour, or take in the blooms from the café terrace.

 

US National Arboretum

Some of the best cherry trees beyond the Tidal Basin reside at the US National Arboretum, where 446 acres of gardens offer a full dose of spring and very few tourists. Pick up a brochure at the arboretum and go on a self-guided tour to discover such diverse varieties as the early flowering “Dream Catcher,” the mid-season flowering “Pendula” (aka the weeping cherry), and the Yoshino, cultivated from cuttings from the original Tidal Basin beauties. Take the 40-minute tram tour for an overview.

Best accessed from rocky headlands

Sydney is famous for its surf beaches but there are many secluded hideaway beaches dotted all around the harbour. Some are more popular than others, depending on their accessibility, but our top tips are the diminutive Lady Martins Beach at Point Piper, not far from central Sydney and tucked between the salubrious suburbs of Double Bay and Rose Bay.

On the northern side of city, head for Balmoral Beach near Mosman. It is an excellent beach for families, with a netted enclosed swimming area and large shady Moreton Bay fig trees to escape the heat. Lastly, look for Collins Beach at Manly, a long circuitous walk from the Manly ferry pier, where you may well find yourself alone for a good part of the day.

 

Autumn sun

This may surprise many first-time travellers to Sydney, but autumn (March to May) is a perhaps the best time to hit the beach. Sydney is blessed with a fairly temperate climate so it can stay sunny and reasonably warm right into late May (the beginning of the Australian winter). It takes some months for the ocean to cool down to the same temperature as the land which means the sea can still be surprisingly warm even if days are not baking hot.

 

Rise and shine

You can beat the heat, and the summer hordes, by heading down to the Sydney’s most iconic surf spot, Bondi Beach, early in the morning. There’s nothing like watching the sun rise over the ocean, and you’ll be sharing the experience with locals surfing, running, and doing their early morning sun salutations. Bondi gets busier as the day wears on – by midday traffic can clog the main routes down to the shoreline. Book an early lunch at Icebergs, which overlooks the iconic ocean pool, then make your escape.

 

Go south

If you do hit Bondi in peak hour, you can also head south to Bronte and Coogee via a cliff-side walking path (unfortunately you won’t be the only one doing this walk!). Beyond Bondi there are further ocean pools for the less confident swimmers to take a paddle where you’re protected from sharks as well as the swell. You’ll still be swimming with the same breath-taking views of sandstone headlands, sea birds and the occasional band of whales ploughing their migration routes along the Pacific.

Ecotopia where the dream lives on

One rule of Nipton living is that you never try to outshout the train. The noise might not seem so deafening closer to civilization, but in this Mojave Desert town, 60 miles south of Las Vegas, silence holds dominion. On my first visit there last year, I sat for a long while and heard nothing at all—no car, no airplane, no leaf blower, no barking dog, not a single human voice. The vast wordless desert surrounded me in all directions.

I’d arrived on a weekday, my rental car pinged by a shower of pebbles and grit as I motored down Nipton Road, which runs between Interstate 15 and the town of Searchlight, Nevada.

There were no people roaming the sidewalks because there were no sidewalks—or people, for that matter. A faded settlement of about 20 permanent residents, the town consisted of an assortment of structures, some solid and occupied, some as vacant and splintered as an Old West movie set. Gamers might know Nipton for its cameo in Xbox 360’s Fallout: New Vegas, where it played a post-apocalyptic wasteland infested by giant mantises. But otherwise it was your typical drive-through desert community, fixed at the crossroads of Nowhere Special and Wherever You Were Going. There was one notable exception: Nipton, and everything in it, was for sale.

Two weeks earlier I’d telephoned the town’s owner, an 83-year-old former gold miner named Gerald Freeman, known to everyone as Jerry. He purchased Nipton’s 80 acres in 1984, then spent the next 30 years slowly turning it into a desert ecotopia, where he did everything from plant trees to convert to biofuel to erect an 80-kilowatt solar plant that pumps the town with nearly half its power.

A future buyer with enough cash and the right sense of mission would get the deed to the whole thing—a town, yes, but also Jerry’s vision. “Nipton was where I realized my dream,” he told me. But time was running out. When we spoke, he’d just spent four months in the hospital with congestive heart and renal failures, and he was still getting his nutrition from a feeding tube. He was looking for someone to continue his work. Before we hung up, he invited me to Nipton, to come see his sustainable community up close.

Gateway to global cuisine

While Malmö may be Sweden’s third largest city with 330,000 residents, it remains its most diverse with an influx of migrants and refugees representing 177 countries, enriching its culinary landscape.

From a focus on slow gastronomy using locally sourced ingredients from around the Skåne region, to up-and-coming fusion restaurants tapping into Malmö’s rich cultural diversity, this city located on Sweden’s southern coastline is turning into the place to go to sample some of the country’s most exciting kitchens.

 

Eating your way around the world

The sweet wafts of Indian and Asian spices, savoury smells of Turkish and Middle Eastern grills, and some of the best falafel guide you toward the city’s migrant neighbourhood of Möllevången, fondly called ‘Möllan’ by locals.

Located on Bergsgatan and touted as the first fully Syrian restaurant in Malmö, Shamiat opened its doors in 2014. Owner Maurice Salloum’s goal is to transport diners to his hometown of Damascus the way he remembered it before the war. The space is decorated with framed photos of his birth city and antique Middle Eastern chandeliers, and the menu is filled with Syrian classics such as nakanek (spicy lamb sausage) and kubbe (minced meat rolls with bulgur and pine nuts).

Strolling further down Bergsgatan, you’ll find Turkish kebab and Middle Eastern shawarma joints next to Indian curry houses, Japanese sushi restaurants, and falafel shops – a visual representation of the city’s rapidly growing global tastes.

Even international food court Mitt Möllan (mittmollan.se) reflects this diversity, where everyone can find their own culinary slice of Malmö – from Vietnamese pho served up by Little Vietnam to Indian specialties and cooking classes from The Masala Box, and Neapolitan sourdough pizzas baked at Pizza Dal Sud.

Looking beyond Möllan into other parts of town, a local cult favorite remains The Orient House Of Falafel No 1, a Lebanese restaurant known for its savory fried chickpea balls served in a variety of ways. Korean fusion restaurant Namu (namu.nu), which was recently awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand, blends both Korean inspired-flavours with local Swedish ingredients in its shared communal style dishes. Its ‘Koreansk smakresa’ (Korean taste journey) menu is divided into two multi-course offerings – Expeditionen (The Expedition, five-course) and Resan (The Trip, three-course) focusing on more traditional dishes such as bulgogi (thinly-sliced marinated beef) and salted cod with shiitake mushrooms and seaweed oil.

 

Local markets, food halls, and street grub

Seafood lovers should head over to Fiskehoddorna (fiskehoddorna.se) at the crack of dawn to find the largest seafood market in the region. This is where fishermen and fishmongers converge to sell newly caught fish and shellfish including pickled herring and smoked seafood like eel and salmon.

The Reason Kiribati is a nature lovers paradise

With its far-flung location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, its vast spread (33 islands scattered over 3.5 million square kilometres of ocean), and a lack of people (around 100,000 inhabitants in total), it’s little wonder the Republic of Kiribati is only popular with intrepid nature lovers.

Whether you’re into fishing, bird-watching, diving or surfing, this remote destination is worth the trek while there are still people living here to welcome you.

 

First come for the fishing

One prime reason travellers head to Kiritimati (Christmas Island) in the Republic of Kiribati is for the fishing – marlin, sailfish, wahoo, barracuda and huge schools of tuna are found here. But the real gem: miles of pristine saltwater flats perfect for wading and fly-fishing for bonefish, milkfish, triggerfish and a number of trevally including the elusive giant trevally. GT, as they are affectionately known, are on the bucket list of most dedicated fly-fishermen. This exotic species hunts on the flats for prey and is known for its speed, weight (upwards of 40kgs) and ferocity.

Giant trevally are difficult to hook and even more difficult to land. They frequently snap both lines and rods. Fishing for one is a truly awe inspiring experience that will give you a heightened respect for this bully of the saltwater flats (catching a 20kg baby, in relative terms, GT was one of this fisherman’s proudest moments).

Fishing tours are run from a number of self-contained lodges that provide board, boats and guides. These local guides are proud of their island’s rich and diverse marine life and conservation is as important as the catch. Tuna caught off the island invariably end up as a feast of fresh sushi that same night in the lodge, all fish within the reef are returned to swim another day.

 

You can’t help but become a bird watcher

As you might expect for a nation of islands in the middle of a vast expanse of ocean, Kiribati is home to a thriving bird population. Here you can spot seabirds, obviously, with frigatebirds, boobies, shearwaters, petrels and gulls – they’re hard to miss. But bird lovers may be surprised by the land-based birds found in Kiribati. The islands have around 15 percent regenerated forest cover today which is home to the Kuhl’s lorikeet, Pacific long-tailed cuckoo, and the endemic Christmas Island warbler.  For those not inclined to twitching, the many species of birdsong is probably best enjoyed in a hammock with a cold drink.

The style set from around the world

There are many reasons to love Mexico City. The leafy sidewalks of the swanky Polanco neighborhood. The cutting-edge galleries and shops of Condesa and Roma. The colorful nightlife scene of the newly revived Juárez district, where trendy wine bars are opening up next to classic cabarets and some of the city’s oldest theaters. Not to mention some of the best eating on the continent, whether at a humble taco stand or in an award-winning dining room.

And it seems now more than ever that Mexico City is luring the style set from around the world. Gallerists and artists flock to see one of the best private art collections, at Museo Jumex. Designers hit up the craft market in San Ángel and architect Luis Barragán’s house in Miguel Hidalgo for inspiration. And revelers of all sorts crowd the streets of the city’s historic center, which has been spiffed up with cool bars and design hotels. This metropolis of 22 million is positively teeming with possibility.

Of course it’s a complicated, sometimes baffing, not easily navigated city. It has violence, corruption, glaring wealth disparity — and all eyes warily watch for signs of global political turmoil. But despite these odds, or perhaps because of them, Mexico City is bristling with creative energy right now. There’s no better time to do as the T+L crew did and head south to soak up the scene in one of the world’s most intoxicating cities. One visit to Salón Covadonga—a traditional cantina where the domino- playing grandfathers sip tequila alongside art-world swells long into the night—and you’ll get it.

Experienced getting a puppy

Puppies need time to settle into their new home and bond with their owners. They’ve probably just been taken from their mothers and introduced to a brand new environment, so there’s likely to be a lot of crying. And that’s before you can even think about house-training.

As it turns out, some companies sympathise with this transition and offer what’s known as “pawternity leave.” In fact, research from Petplan found that 5% of owners have been offered paid leave from their job to adjust to their pet owning duties.

These are some of the companies which give you a few days off to bond with your new best friend.

Mars Petcare was one of the first companies to offer pawternity leave. The company offers its employees ten hours of paid leave when they get a new pet, and they can bring them into the office after that.

BitSol Solutions

A tech company based in Manchester called BitSol Solutions offers its employees a full week of paid leave if they get a new pet. According to the Metro, company owner Greg Buchanan said: “Pets are like babies nowadays, so why shouldn’t staff have some time off when they arrive?”

BrewDog

Scottish brewery company BrewDog has just started offering a week of paid leave. The reason given on the BrewDog website is that they just really love dogs. Also, it aims to be “the best company to work for, ever.”

Some companies offer pet bereavement leave too.

There’s also a growing trend to offer employees time off when their pets die. Losing your furry friend is devastating, and more and more companies are sympathising.

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in San Francisco offers three days leave, Mars Inc offers one day and flexible hours, California-based software company VMware and Boston-based Maxwell Health both offer flexible days, and Trupanion, a Seattle-based pet insurance company, offers employees one day. Canadian company Shoppers Drug Mart lets employees take days off if they have a loss in the family, and they say that includes a beloved pet.

Things to do in Shanghai

Shanghai is a metropolis abounding in energy and excitement and there’s no shortage of interesting things to do. Designer shopping malls, expensive boutiques and upmarket restaurants might appear to reign supreme, but Shanghai is also chock full of free and inexpensive things to do.

If you’re lucky enough to visit this dynamic city, and are willing to crowd in with a few other tourists, Shanghai’s budget sights are top-notch. Here are our picks for the ten best free (or nearly free) things to do in China’s most glamorous city.

 

Tianzifang’s bustling alleyways

Expect cheerfully decorated shop fronts and a lively atmosphere in this fun shopping area at the edge of the French Concession. Tianzifang is a network of small alleys lined with craft shops, bars and food stands. Shoppers looking for the best bargains need to come armed with a price in mind and a knack for haggling – shopkeepers here love the chase!

 

The Bund waterfront

Shanghai’s elegant skyline comes to life at night along the city’s glittering waterfront, The Bund. This stretch of colonial buildings delights visitors who flock here to gaze at some of China’s most impressive architectural landmarks and towering modern wonders across the river in Pudong.  Don’t be put off by the crowds, however; head down in the early evening to savour the light displays before they are turned off at 10pm.

 

Shanghai Museum

When it comes to ancient art relics, China’s collection is extensive and impressive. Shanghai Museum houses a comprehensive display of the legacy left by the advanced cultures of bygone eras, including the Ming and Qing dynasties. Bronzes, ceramics, ancient coins, jade artefacts and traditional costumes are exhibited across the museum’s four floors, including a splendid jade burial suit from the Han dynasty (221–206 BC). Best of all, it’s free to enter: the museum issues a set number of tickets each day for different time slots.

Come with farm to table meals from a local chef

Yellowstone is the oldest U.S. national park (it just celebrated its 145th birthday), but that doesn’t mean its visitors are behind on the times. A new retreat near the park, opening for the season on June 7, is for those embracing the glamping trend with open arms.

Five wood and canvas teepee-like tents make up the Yellowstone Collective Retreat. They sit along an alpine lake beneath 11,166-foot-high Lone Peak, a popular ski spot in Big Sky, Montana’s scenic Moonlight Basin.

Inside, each “tent” looks more like a luxury wilderness lodge, with rustic-chic furniture including a plush wooden bed and rocking chairs, tribal-print accents, and an antler-inspired chandelier. And glampers won’t be cooking their own meals over an open flame — a chef from neighboring Three Peaks Lodge sources local meats and produce and prepares farm-to-table breakfasts and dinners.

The site is not inside Yellowstone — it’s located just under an hour from the park’s west entrance — but the 8,000-acre Moonlight Basin offers plenty of nature-centric activities of its own, from horseback riding and fly fishing to paddleboarding and kayaking.

The New Way to Camp Outside Yellowstone

Yellowstone is the oldest U.S. national park (it just celebrated its 145th birthday), but that doesn’t mean its visitors are behind on the times. A new retreat near the park, opening for the season on June 7, is for those embracing the glamping trend with open arms.

Five wood and canvas teepee-like tents make up the Yellowstone Collective Retreat. They sit along an alpine lake beneath 11,166-foot-high Lone Peak, a popular ski spot in Big Sky, Montana’s scenic Moonlight Basin.

Inside, each “tent” looks more like a luxury wilderness lodge, with rustic-chic furniture including a plush wooden bed and rocking chairs, tribal-print accents, and an antler-inspired chandelier. And glampers won’t be cooking their own meals over an open flame — a chef from neighboring Three Peaks Lodge sources local meats and produce and prepares farm-to-table breakfasts and dinners.

The site is not inside Yellowstone — it’s located just under an hour from the park’s west entrance — but the 8,000-acre Moonlight Basin offers plenty of nature-centric activities of its own, from horseback riding and fly fishing to paddleboarding and kayaking.